Grown Ups: a “Shrunk Down” Comedy

Movie Review: Grown Ups (2010)
Spoilers: none


What opens up to a recreation of a 1978 school basketball game is prelude to a tenuously-delivered series of put-downs and awkward interactions between the main characters: Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler), Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), Kurt McKenzie (Chris Roc), Marcus Higgins (David Spade), and Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider), all of whom are childhood best friends who grew up, got married, and then got the tragic news that their childhood coach passed away. This is where Grown Ups takes off.

Reuniting at dear old coach's funeral, it is supposed to be a somber occasion, a time for everyone to say goodbye to a childhood mentor who meant so much to these guys who were kids some 30 years back and hadn't seen him in all that time. While I can't see kids being this attached to a childhood authority figure they hadn't seen in forever, I certainly cannot see how 2010's Death at a Funeral didn't teach us anything about unleashing substandard comedy on unsuspecting audiences. We now have two star-powered comedies that didn’t go over well this year.

Death at a Funeral was a four-star contender compared to this fourfold family flop, one which could have been branded with a capital “E” for “embarrassment” had it showed up on the resumes of any persons other than grade-A comedians. Much of the nearly good humor is lost on audiences that will never be prepared for what is to come, and so much of that is mingled with the bad, making the good taste like a watered-down vodka, or if you will, like human breast milk.

Unbelievably, 2010 seems to be a big year for older kid breastfeeding gags, which are not (and have never been) funny. Watching four-year-olds breastfeed and accidentally slip off the nipple, resulting in the mother's milk being sprayed all over a nearby parent is difficult to endure. Enduring it requires being mentally deficient in some way or having the monk-like ability to meditate and block out nasty images that damage the entertainment-craving psyche.

These friends put each other down like any old-time friends would and do. Only, you'd think that because they are comedians with scripts and opportunities to rehearse and to perfect their parts, that they would succeed at what they do best anyways, which is making viewers laugh. This they should do more so than any other group of friends having a gay ole' time and chuckling over each others' idiosyncrasies. But they don't.

Not all immature grown men are funny, just as not all comedians make you want to laugh. If that's the case, then surely watching overly protective and misguided parents going to crazy lengths to try and shield their children from crude sex references and refusing to tell a bratty kid “no” to breastfeeding is nowhere near funny. Dogs with vocal cords clipped and old, mouthy black women with bunions that consume literally an entire foot is worse than not funny. It compels one to quit watching with the strength of a gale-force wind.

Grown-Ups gives us approximately 15% solid laughs, 35% blatant repulsiveness, and 50% weak slapstick that will be a ball-dropper for all fans of these super comedy stars who did themselves – and us – no favors in this cringe-worthy creation.

A miscast Salma Hayek as Lenny's wife Roxanne was a slight miscalculation, while using Colin Quinn as Dickie, the antagonistic competition for the gang, was no way to rise this fart-joke-ridden failure out of the mud. With as much or more creepy than comedy, Grown-Ups has very little respect for an intelligent audience.

We're not wrong to hold professionals to higher standards. No need to abandon this reasoning in our evaluation of big-name comedians. Adam Sandler worked as producer on this project and gave us glimpses into at least one event into his personal life, of a time when swinging on a rope over a river got him smashed against a tree. Guess it was supposed to seem funnier if Kevin James did it.

Funny? Guess you had to be there.



Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13 (for coarse language, crude humor, language, and suggestive themes)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Summary: After their high school basketball coach passes away, five good friends and former teammates reunite for a Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Starring: Adam Sandler "Lenny Feder," Kevin James "Eric Lamonsoff," Chris Rock "Kurt McKenzie," David Spade "Marcus Higgins," Rob Schneider "Rob Hilliard," Salma Hayek "Roxanne Chase-Feder," Maria Bello "Sally Lamonsoff," Maya Rudolph "Deanne McKenzie"
Genre: Comedy